중앙데일리

Water and soil around U.S. bases polluted

Feb 24,2009

The Seoul Metropolitan Government said on Sunday that groundwater and soil contamination has been found on 16,036 square meters (172,610 square feet) of land near four U.S. military bases in the city.

According to the city’s environmental assessment of 12 U.S. military bases in the capital last year, the groundwater was contaminated on a 11,776 square meter area around Noksapyeong subway station near Yongsan Garrison in Itaewon-dong. The city also found groundwater and soil was polluted on 2,200 square meters around Camp Gray in Daebang-dong and 591 square meters around Camp Kim in Namyeong-dong. A total of 1,449 square meters of soil around the United Nations Command in Dongbinggo-dong was also affected.

Of the 12 U.S. military bases being examined by the city, Camp Gray and the UN Command were returned to Korea in May 2007. The city government said the current figures may go up, as it had not yet conducted a full examination of some American military bases - Camp Kim and the Main and South posts of Yongsan Garrison - which are still under the control of the U.S. military. Camp Kim is scheduled to be returned to the Korean military in 2012 and Yongsan Garrison is slated for turnover in 2014.

The city government has already spent about 2.1 billion won ($1.4 million) on removing floating oil waste and polluted groundwater from returned bases since 2001. It plans to spend 420 million won on cleanup this year.

In March 2006, the Seoul Metropolitan Government filed a lawsuit against the central government to recover expenses on such cleanup as at the U.S. military oil leak near Noksapyeong Station. In the first ruling in August 2007, the Seoul Central District Court ruled in favor of the city. A second trial is currently underway.

When an oil tank buried at the U.S. military base near Noksapyeong sprung a leak in January 2001, U.S. military officials said they completed the decontamination process in 2006. The city government, however, said it had to pump out 300 tons of contaminated groundwater and remove 15 tons of floating oil in the area last year. Kweon Ki-uk, a Seoul Metropolitan Government official, said rainwater is spreading the remaining oil.


By Kang Kap-saeng JoongAng Ilbo [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]


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